ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s official: There are four new members of the World Video Game Hall of Fame.

This year’s class includes:

  • Animal Crossing
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • StarCraft
  • Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Officials from the Strong National Museum of Play, where the World Video Game Hall of Fame is located in Rochester, New York, made the announcement during a virtual ceremony Thursday.

These inductees were chosen from other finalists, including:

  • Call of Duty
  • FarmVille
  • FIFA International Soccer
  • Guitar Hero
  • Mattel Football
  • Pole Position, Portal
  • Tron

These finalists were chosen from thousands of nominations, and players could vote in a “players’ choice” poll.

Like every year, the games are judged based on four categories:

  • Icon-status: the game is widely recognized and remembered
  • Longevity: the game is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over time
  • Geographical reach: the game meets the above criteria across international boundaries
  • Influence: the game has exerted significant influence on the design and development of other games, on other forms of entertainment, or on popular culture and society in general

About Animal Crossing

Strong National Museum of Play photo

Nintendo debuted the Animal Crossing game in 2001, offering players leisurely gameplay set in real time amid changing seasons. Players were invited to start a new life by moving into a colorful town filled with villagers, each with their own distinct personality. The game gave players the freedom to complete activities and collect objects as they liked, with each day holding the potential for new surprises and discoveries. Players responded to the mellow gameplay and quirky characters, kicking off a long-running series for Nintendo with numerous games. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the latest installment for the Nintendo Switch system, has been played by people around the world.

“The freedom of play in Animal Crossing gave the game wider gender and age appeal than many other video game titles of its time,” says Research Historian Racquel Gonzales. “The low stakes of Animal Crossing also allowed people to play at their own leisure without penalty. These elements may help explain why its latest installment proved such a huge hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, when everyone was searching for a little neighborly sociability.”

“It’s the most recent game of all these, it came out in 2001,” Dyson said. “And it too shows how a great game persists, with the current revival this year, Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the pandemic was a great way to bring people together. “

“It was really big for Nintendo,” said Stephen Jacobs, Director of OPEN at RIT. “It was really big for the platform and it really saw a big bump, surprise surprise during the COVID all of a sudden when the new new version was released during COVID, the friend codes were flying everywhere… So it’s, not all about either the young kids or a adolescent guy in his basement playing the military shooter, upgrade games are everywhere. Everybody plays them. They’re all different.”

About Microsoft Flight Simulator

Strong National Museum of Play photo

For nearly four decades, Microsoft Flight Simulator has provided millions of players endless hours of game play by providing highly realistic but intuitive recreations of real-life airplanes. Its simple premise and accessible content disguises the advanced programming that has made it so successful. Since its launch in 1982, the game has been regularly updated and remains the most popular, longest lasting, and most influential flying sim of all time.

“It’s hard to overestimate what a groundbreaking program Microsoft Flight Simulator was when it debuted in 1983,” says Jeremy Saucier, assistant vice president for interpretation and electronic games. “For the first time, amateur and professional aviators could navigate the skies—without ever leaving home. And the joy of flight is universal, which is perhaps why Microsoft Flight Simulator has continued to captivate gamers for decades.”

“The flight simulator community is insane,” said Stephen Jacobs with RIT. “They have mapped the entire planet… I think in the last year or two Microsoft rolled in all of the GIS, all of their mapping properties. So you’re now flying through the satellite imagery. It’s about as real as you can get without being in a cockpit yourself. And add-ons for the hardcore flight simulator guys, the pedals and the yolks and all that. It’s incredible.

“It’s had an amazingly persistent community through the years,” he continued. “The number of people who use that to help themselves certified for their flight licenses is astronomical.”

About StarCraft

Strong National Museum of Play photo

California-based developer Blizzard Entertainment took the real-time strategy genre to new heights in 1998 with the debut of StarCraft. The single-player mode of the immersive, science-fiction game proved popular, but the multiplayer mode, which included a ladder ranking system, turned it into the largest esports title of its day. StarCraft won multiple Game of the Year Awards, and generated its own lines of novels, graphic novels, licensed toys, clothing, and gaming accessors.

StarCraft added a new twist to the strategy game formula while leading a revolution in multiplayer gaming,” says Andrew Borman, digital games curator. “It’s regarded as one of the best real-time strategy games of all time and significantly impacted many of the real-time strategy games that have followed in the past two decades.”

“Maybe the most gamer game of all these, but it’s really important because it brought e-sports — the idea of competitive video game playing — around the world to the foremost of attention, including South Korea; where it’s huge, people are packing stadiums watching people play StarCraft,” Dyson said.

“It like the grandfather of youth sports in terms of influence across that country,” said Stephens Jacobs, Director of OPEN at RIT. “And then later everywhere, the first game where people were regularly broadcasting and even commenting on, you know, online game performance on a, on a large scale. So it’s pretty significant.

“It’s very hard to find the game that took over our country very often and StarCraft did,” he added.

About Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Released by Brøderbund in 1985, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? spawned one of the best-selling “edutainment” franchises, combing education and entertainment. Designed for the first generation of graphic-enabled personal computers, the title made learning world geography fun for millions of students as they searched for the whereabouts of the mysterious Carmen Sandiego. The game, which launched several sequels, also inspired a hit show on American Public Broadcasting in the 1990s and an animated series on Netflix (2019-2021)—helping propel Carmen Sandiego and her world-traveling ways into the cultural zeitgeist.

Says Archivist Julia Novakovic, “Between the still-growing video game franchise (including a Google Earth tie-in) and the game’s recent run as a show on Netflix, Carmen Sandiego is as recognizable a character as ever. Is she an evil villain or a misunderstood genius? You’ll have to track her across the globe to find out!”

“A lot of people remember this from their computer lab at school, trying to chase this international master thief around the globe and learning a lot of geography along the way,” said John-Paul Dyson, VP of Exhibits.

“Games are ‘informal education,'” said Stephen Jacobs at RIT. “And in the back in the day when the internet was not prevalent and Carmen first came out, it shipped with things like almanacs and dictionaries… So they drop a clue and you have to page through the book… Then you make the right guests.”

On looking ahead, Jacobs thinks that a AR or VR game will at least be a finalist, and Dyson believes that next year a sports game of some variety will be inducted.

Past inductees

Class of 2020:

  • Bejeweled
  • Centipede
  • King’s Quest
  • Minecraft

Class of 2019:

  • Colossal Cave Adventure
  • Microsoft Solitaire
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Super Mario Kart

Class of 2018:

  • Final Fantasy VII
  • John Madden Football
  • Spacewar!
  • Tomb Raider

Class of 2017:

  • Donkey Kong
  • Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Pokémon Red and Green
  • Street Fighter II

Class of 2016:

  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Space Invaders
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • The Oregon Trail
  • The Sims

Class of 2015:

  • DOOM
  • Pac-Man
  • Pong
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Tetris
  • World of Warcraft

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.